Copyrights to product photos and product descriptions in dropshipping.

What you must know before you start selling online in dropshipping.

Do you sell products online or plan to sell them? Here’s what you should know about copyrights for product photos and dropshipping product descriptions – in your online store or on Allegro.

It would seem that you can easily use photos and descriptions of the product manufacturer, after all, thanks to you, the number of products of a given brand on the market may increase. Is it really so?

Before posting photos of the product or description to it, you must verify that both are not protected by copyright.

Let’s start with what is the subject of copyright. Article 1 of the Copyright Act provides:

“The subject of copyright is any expression of creative activity of an individual nature, determined in any form, regardless of the value, purpose and method of expression (piece of work).”

How can we know that we are dealing with the so-called a piece of work showing individual character?

The photo will be cropped, depth and sharpness determined, perspective will be visible, special effects will be applied, such as an appropriate filter. Appropriate props or people will be positioned in the picture. These are of course only examples. To sum up – it will not be, for example, a simple photo of the product, taken quickly with the phone and quickly uploaded to the network. It will not display individual character.

We must also remember that photographing products is a time-consuming and expensive occupation for which professionals are employed. Such photos are usually also subject to a time-consuming graphic process. It should not be surprising, therefore, that a person who has often put out a significant amount of money for a photo session of the products (producer) is unhappy to see that someone uses such photos without his/her consent.

What to do to avoid the unpleasant situation that may be a request to remove from our website photos to which we do not have copyright? Not only that – in addition to the request to remove photos someone might make a monetary claim against us.

First of all, before you put photos of products in your store or on Allegro, contact the producer and ask for written permission to use his/her photos. In most cases, we will most likely receive a positive response. Remember, however, that there are also producers who care very much about their brand, PR and distribute their products only through the so-called official channels. In such case, we can be refused such consent.

The same applies to professional product descriptions. Here, the producer also invested in their creation. He hired copywriters who gave the description a professional touch of an individual character. Thus, such a description became a work within the meaning of the above article of the Copyright Act. How do we recognize a description protected by copyright? For example, it will often have pictorial, colorful and suggestive language that affects our senses. Also, be careful about using technical data of a given product, this form of description may also be protected by copyright when e.g. a series of seemingly boring technical data will be presented in the form of a table with specific colors and an unusual frame.

As a rule, simple, short technical information will most likely not be a piece of work, but a detailed leaflet might be. And here again – before the unpleasant situation in the form of a claim from the producer to remove his/her descriptions from your website, or a monetary claim issued, you can be saved by asking the producer first whether you can use his/her descriptions to sell his/her products.

Remember:

  1. Ask for permission – the producer of the products, not the dealer, as he/she will most likely not be an entity that can allow the use of photos or descriptions of the producer.
  2. Make a short statement for the producer allowing you to use photos of his/her products or descriptions for these products. The laconic e-mail response from a producer such as ‘yes’ may sometimes prove to be insufficient protection for us.

As the old saying goes – the forwarned is always forearmed! Do not hesitate to obtain permission to use the producer’s photos and product descriptions. This is not a time-consuming and stressful task to perform at the beginning of your business, and it can save you a lot of trouble. The number of claims for copyright infringement increases year by year.

If you have questions, our specialist will be happy to provide you with further information.

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